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[ALA-WO:766] INFO/UCITA: UCITA Will Ride Again in 2003

ALAWON: American Library Association Washington Office Newsline
Volume 11, Number 85
October 25, 2002


 [1] NCCUSL approves new amendments

In August 2002, The National Conference of Commissioners of Uniform State
Laws (NCCUSL) approved 38 amendments to UCITA. The changes attempt to
address criticisms made by libraries and their business and consumer
partners as well as the American Bar Association. The changes are
described as "substantive" by the UCITA Standby Committee that drafted
them. However, when examined closely they actually amount to small changes
that in some cases may appear to be real improvements but actually are
not.  (Go to www.affect.ucita.com for an analysis of these amendments in
early November)

Approval of the amendments at the annual NCCUSL conference followed much
controversy among NCCUSL commissioners. A petition drive initiated by
several commissioners sought to have UCITA downgraded to a model law, a
move that would have withdrawn active NCCUSL support for its passage and
been a fatal blow to its legislative future. The petition was withdrawn.

It is significant that the controversy around UCITA continues, even within
the ranks of NCCUSL. AFFECT, the national coalition opposing UCITA, will
continue its active opposition to UCITA in any state where it is
introduced and will continue to promote the organization of statewide
coalitions. NCCUSL is under enormous pressure to prove that these latest
changes have substantively improved UCITA and that it can be a viable act
in state legislatures. This pressure will undoubtedly fuel an intense
effort, similar to that seen in 2001, to promote UCITA in state

[2] NCCUSL approves library amendment

NCCUSL actually approved a narrow library amendment that permits the
transfer or donation of software to public libraries, public elementary or
secondary schools and consumers, as long as the software remains in the
computer. This change was not one of those proposed by libraries. Although
it takes a small step in the right direction, it falls far short of the
activities permitted under the first sale provision of federal copyright
law and does not apply to all libraries. To view the amendment, go to
http://www.law.upenn.edu/. The library amendment is in Sec. 503 (2) (c )

[3] What's still wrong with UCITA?

-UCITA still validates terms in "shrink-wrap" and "click-on" contracts
that would prohibit libraries from making a fair use of electronic
materials, including the copying and archiving of digital products

-UCITA still does not require vendors to reveal the terms of the license
prior to purchase

-UCITA still does not require software publishers to reveal known defects

-Although UCITA now prohibits "electronic self-help" in certain
situations, it still allows an "automatic restraint" provision that
permits licensors to remotely shut down an organization's critical

-UCITA still allows vendors to change the terms of the contract after a
purchaser agrees to the terms

-UCITA still undermines federal copyright law by allowing vendors to
prohibit reverse engineering for the purpose of detecting security holes

-UCITA is still fundamentally biased to favor the needs of software
publishers to the detriment of businesses, consumers and libraries

-UCITA is still overly complex, hard to understand and in need of total

[4] Are you new to UCITA?

Visit the best UCITA websites. www.ala.org/washoff/ucita.html

Save the date for UCITA at ALA Mid-winter 

The "New" UCITA in 2003: CR/COL Briefing 
-Sunday January 26, 2003    1:00 - 2:30 p.m.
-Monday January 27, 2003    9:00 - 10:30 a. m

Joint UCITA Task Force Meeting 
-Sunday January 26, 2003 10:00 - 11:00 a.m.

Comments and questions to:
Carol Ashworth
UCITA Grassroots Coordinator

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